KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Week 17 just became a must-see for Kansas City Chiefs fans.
Rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes will start the team’s regular-season finale Sunday at Denver. Chiefs coach Andy Reid made the announcement Wednesday at the team’s training facility as the Chiefs began practice. He also said he will rotate in other players this week and give the younger guys a chance to play, but all eyes will be on Mahomes, who hasn’t played a snap all season.
“The biggest thing for me is to go out there and win any way possible,” Mahomes said at his locker, which is right next to Alex Smith’s. “If I throw for 300 yards or 100 yards or whatever it is — whatever it takes to get a win.”
A win for the Chiefs (9-6) wouldn’t affect their seed in the playoffs as they are locked in for the fourth seed and will play a wild-card game Jan. 6 or 7 at Arrowhead Stadium. So Reid — as he has done in the past — is using the final game of the regular season to rest some starters for the playoffs.
Denver is planning to play its starters, so Mahomes will be facing a stout defense. The Broncos also announced Tuesday that they will be starting Paxton Lynch at quarterback. The Chiefs drafted Mahomes with the 10th pick in this year’s draft and he did get some playing time with the starters during the preseason. And while there is no substitute for game experience, he has been on the scout team going against the Chiefs starting defense in practice all year.
“Having our defense, the team I’m going against every day, it’s a great defense with a lot of great players,” Mahomes said. “And that helps me, getting those mental reps.”
After the Chiefs drafted Mahomes, Smith took the youngster under his wing, even though he knows his days with the Chiefs are numbered. Still, the veteran QB has been impressed with the rookie.
“He has a great ability to play the game and not get locked into schemes and fundamentals and things like that,” Smith said. “Those things are all important, don’t get me wrong. But he has a great ability to go play and that’s really important as well.”
Reid, who had a hand in developing Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb, also likes what he’s seen from Mahomes so far.
“From where he started to where he is at now has been tremendous,” Reid said. “He’s come quite a ways.”
Reid wasn’t sure yet if he would have Smith be active and serve as Mahomes’ backup against the Broncos, but either way Smith will be there to help Mahomes, who is thankful to have Smith in his hear.
“He knows how to prepare for an NFL football game,” Mahomes said. “He’s one of the best at it and he’s prepared, knowing every situation that if this happens, you go here. If this happens, you go there. Those things stand out and just watching him from the sideline.”
Mahomes has been stationed there on the sideline for the team’s first 15 games, but that will change Sunday, which could be a glimpse of the future. And Mahomes can’t wait to get started.
“Just being able to play is going to be awesome,” Mahomes said.
BUTKER HONORED — Rookie kicker Harrison Butker on Wednesday was named AFC special teams player of the week after making five of six field goals in last week’s win against the Dolphins. As a rookie, Butker has already set the franchise single-season record for field goals made (36) and consecutive field goals made (23). Butker also wasn’t signed until the third game of the season.